Highlights from the Vineyards Of Hampshire Press Tasting 13.02.19

@67 Pall Mall

Some quick notes from a great tasting this morning at 67 Pall Mall. The story - Hattingley Valley. Not only are their own wines brilliant, but the winemaking which they offer to other growers is surely an ingredient in the success of the likes of Raimes and Cottonworth. Away from Hattingley, Exton Park's wines were showing brilliantly today, and I really enjoyed the current range from Hambledon. My favourites:

Black Chalk Classic 2015
Ex-Hattingley Jacob Leadley is doing his own thing with two wines under his Black Chalk label. The Rosé is a delight, but the Classic is my pick - this is fresh but has a savoury, detailed and mineral side that I love. Almost very slightly smoky/meaty in a very subtle way - quite Champagne-like (don't shoot me!). Love that Meunier influence. Seriously classy.

Cottonworth Classic Cuvée NV
Again the Rosé is very good, but this is superb. Fresh, lightly-charred lemon and ripe orchard fruit, elegant style with some fruit depth from increasing reserve wine usage. Very complete on the palate - no gaps! Made at Hattingley Valley.

Exton Park Blanc De Noirs NV
All the Exton wines were showing brilliant, vibrant freshness today. So impressive. The Blanc De Blancs 2011 showed some nice honeyed development, and the Rosé is a unique, pink-quince tinged take on the English style. However it was the super-fresh, creamy apple and macaroon of the Blanc De Noirs NV that I loved. 2 years on lees and 10g/l dosage with no malo or oak usage, it is fabulously pure.

Hambledon Classic Cuvée NV
The Premiére Cuvée is the top wine here, terse, stony and deep with some lovely stone fruit and cream through the palate. It needs time. I was really impressed today with the entry-level Classic Cuvée, which I have previously found a bit lean (perhaps on account of a less-favoured vintage base); the current release is so appealing, with a good dash of Meunier in the mix. So clean and elegant. Good value.

Hattingley Valley Blanc De Blancs 2013
Every single Hattingley wine is singing right now (I loved the Demi-Sec!). Hard to choose between them, but this new Blanc De Blancs has the potential to be a world-beater. Mark your cards! Real intensity on the palate for 2013, coiled-up lemon meringue just waiting to spring into glorious toastiness in the future. Stunningly good.

Raimes Classic 2014
This wine was new to me. Made at Hattingley Valley again. The Blanc De Noirs has become Raimes' signature wine, but this classic seemed more harmonious to me. It really is quite classic, at the toastier end of the spectrum with a lovely citrus character. Approachable and really-well balanced - some generosity and ripeness here with lovely ripe Chardonnay (51% of the blend) making its mark.

There were a few oddities, as you'd expect - notably the effects of different winemaking approaches (and different grape varieties!). It's funny how clearly anything less-than-squeaky-clean sticks out when there's such a wealth of precise winemaking in a room. However there is an overwhelming core of brilliant wines here. Go and check them out!